Posted: October 12, 2007
Everyone knows that when state and local governmental entities are attempting to avoid tax increases, they will often rely on the ability to raise the funds necessary to do business by raising various fees. The Eau Claire County Board is being asked to approve a "wheel tax " resolution, which is being recommended by the county's finance committee. The measure would raise enough money to cover the cost of repairing and improving roads within the county's jurisdiction for about the next decade.
If approved, the owner of a vehicle registered in Eau Claire County would spend an extra $10 in excess of the state's current annual fee ($55) to make sure our cars and/or light trucksare legal to drive. The state senate and assembly are considering an additional $20 fee to be included in the 2007-09 biennial budget, which means if the state approves its increase and the Eau Claire County Board passes the recommended $10 hike, the total cost to register a vehicle will cost $85 each year in Eau Claire County beginning in 2008.
Like most people, I dislike new fees and/or taxes. But the proposed Eau Claire County "wheel tax ", which is being promoted as an added fee, may have some merit. St. Croix and Pepin Counties have instituted a similar fee to help offset the cost of repairing and improving their roadways. Likewise, Eau Claire County is being stressed by the state's inability to provide the necessary funds to be sure that our county highways are in safe condition. Part of the problem is that state government has not been able to accurately tell counties, cities and other municipalities how much state aid they will receive as part of the new two-year state budget because, well, they are politicians.
I am non-committal about the "wheel tax " proposal for Eau Claire County. In a perfect world, our elected state politicians should at least let local units of government know how much money they have to work with to prepare their annual budgets so our local public officials can make sound financial decisions.
I was amused that our elected state representatives who are two months late on coming up with a budget compromise were able to pass a unanimous resolution this week to honor Green Bay Packers' quarterback Brett Favre in celebration of his 38th birthday. Obviously, this is another example of true bi-partisanship.